Fancy Slacks

This whole blouse thing opened up a whole new can of worms.

So I was confused about what a blouse was, and it turns out so is the rest of the universe. I think that’s astonishing.

In the comments, people reminded me of the term, slacks, which, to me has a much more straightforward definition. Slacks are basically dress pants. But further investigation into this has turned bizarre.

If you search for “slacks” on Wikipedia, you get sent to a disambiguation page. On said disambiguation page, it states

Slacks is a colloquial term referring to trousers.

My head is spinning.

So you’re telling me more people refer to pants everyday as slacks AND trousers? [I’m talking to you, wikipedia. You transient being, you.]

First things first, are the words slacks and trousers even required in the modern vernacular? We should all agree that slacks and trousers refer to pants. Right?

Perhaps I’m missing the geographic factor. Maybe these words are used in other English speaking nations. Perhaps someone from the UK can clarify. <wink> <wink> The Exile.

Back to slacks

My impression of this word is that it’s specific to less casual pants for either men or women. For example, jeans are not considered slacks. Can we agree on this?

Not that I want to confuse the matter or that we should even care, but I think it’s important to examine the language for these little idiosyncracies. You’d be surprised at the sociological effects there are on words, not that I know anything about sociology or anything, but I still enjoy these little debates.


Advertisement

7 thoughts on “Fancy Slacks

  • KB @ Home-Baked Happiness

    Pants = All pants
    Slacks = Semi-formal pants, like khakis, not jeans but not really, really dressy, either
    Dress pants = Nice, dressy pants, or those you’d get with a suit
    Trousers = Pants, to a British person


  • Darth

    No one says “dungarees” anymore. And I’m still confused as to WTF chinos are.


  • Keith

    In American English, slacks appears to be on an commonly used term from the 30’s – 40’s. While ‘pants’ is by far and away the most commonly used term, we have no way to discern when it is used to refer to dressier trousers (which is continually trending downward).

    What I find more interesting, is the large uptick in the term jeans, from the early 70’s onward. It doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that we Americans have colloquialized ‘pants’ to refer to ‘trousers’ and ‘slacks’, while ‘jeans’ refer to the more casual wear.

    What I find really interesting is that khakis appears to be a very modern, primarily American term.

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=slacks%2Ctrousers%2Cpants%2Ckhakis%2Cjeans%2Cshort+pants%2Cshorts&year_start=1650&year_end=2008&corpus=5&smoothing=3

    In British English, I’d expect trousers to be more prevalent, and it is, to an overwhelming degree:

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=slacks%2Ctrousers%2Cpants%2Ckhakis%2Cjeans%2Cshort+pants%2Cshorts&year_start=1650&year_end=2008&corpus=6&smoothing=3


  • -R.

    Dungarees are similar to denim jeans, and named from the town in India where the fabric originated. Chinos are cotton pants made from twill, and generally khaki (another Indian word that describes that particular shade of tan) in color. The British got around.


  • SaratogaSaint

    Your obsession with the mundane fascinates me.


  • the_exile

    Sorry to come late to the party – been out of decent internet access for a few days. Keith pretty much nailed it, although the ‘pants’ statistics are over-estimates because it is the word used most commonly for underwear for men and children. Trousers is the normal term for all pants worn by men and women in the UK – although jeans are often given a class of their own.

    Khakis is not a word I’d heard before I moved to the states. If we did use it, it would sound the same as the way I say “car keys” i.e. “caaah keys”. If you go to the UK and talk about “khaki pants” they will probably hear “cacky ” which is an altogether different thing.

    Dungarees is the normal term in the UK for what are known here as overalls. Overalls in the UK means coveralls.

    Shall I go on…? 🙂


  • the_exile

    Sorry to come late to the party – been out of decent internet access for a few days. Keith pretty much nailed it, although the ‘pants’ statistics are over-estimates because it is the word used most commonly for underwear for men and children. Trousers is the normal term for all pants worn by men and women in the UK – although jeans are often given a class of their own.

    Khakis is not a word I’d heard before I moved to the states. If we did use it, it would sound the same as the way I say “car keys” i.e. “caaah keys”. If you go to the UK and talk about “khaki pants” they will probably hear “cacky [underwear]” which is an altogether different thing.

    Dungarees is the normal term in the UK for what are known here as overalls. Overalls in the UK means coveralls.

    Shall I go on…? 🙂



Advertisement

Leave a Reply to Darth Cancel reply